Tips on how to make Microsoft 365 work better for your business

Whether you are considering Microsoft 365, or already have a licence, consider that Microsoft wants to help you make every part of your business easier and more efficient. Running a business can be hard work and sometimes it seems there are simply never enough hours in the day to do everything. Part of that has to do with the nature of starting a business. Part of it has to do with not utilising all the productivity-boosting tools at your disposal.

This is why Microsoft has been pushing hard for the past couple of years to bring more productivity and business tools within the grasp of SMBs by constantly upgrading the value of their Office 365 bundles

This has meant developing and adding more and more useful business tools to each subscription bundle. Eventually, it reached a point where the bundle became packed with so much additional value that calling it a “Microsoft Office Bundle” no longer made sense.

This is why Microsoft has recently decided to start rebranding and renaming these bundles to “Microsoft 365” bundles for business. This rebranding has only recently begun, so don’t be surprised if you still see it referred to as Office 365 in a lot of places.

microsoft 365 helps small businesses

Now, whether your business already uses Microsoft 365 or is thinking about it, there are quite a few ways to maximise what you get out of it. What follows are just some of our favourite tips about under-utilised features in Microsoft 365. We bet you will find most of these quite useful.

1) Make business management simpler with Microsoft Planner

Microsoft includes this extensive and super-efficient work-management tool with every business subscription, yet a lot of businesses fail to use it. Often compared to tools like Trello or Asana, Microsoft Planner includes everything you need to modernise the management of your business processes.

The main reason people overlook this amazing tool is that most businesses obtain their Microsoft subscription for the better-known household names such as Access, Word and Excel. And then, they do most things using Word or Excel, completely foregoing all the other amazing dedicated tools included in their Microsoft subscription.

And don’t get us wrong, Word and Excel are amazing general tools that you can use to manage and track almost any business process with. Especially true if you utilise some of the included office templates. However, as your business grows, it is wise to look into the more specialised tools which come included with your Microsoft Subscription.

If you haven’t done it yet, why not give Microsoft Planner a try? The learning curve is minimal and well worth the additional benefits that you gain. And remember, you don’t have to make this transition overnight. You can simultaneously utilise Word and Excel documents to track and organise some of your work and projects, and Planner for others. This allows you to make the transition more gradual.

2) Start using Microsoft Teams

Microsoft has been investing massive amounts of effort to popularise Microsoft Teams for a few years now. In fact, it’s the single fastest-growing app in the history of Microsoft. And for a good reason.

Furthermore, with the arrival of social distancing measures and many businesses having to move to remote-work quickly, Microsoft has doubled on those efforts and Microsoft Teams has become the de-facto way for millions of workers to collaborate with their colleagues in an efficient and effortless manner.

The reason is quite simple. Microsoft Teams allows your employees to collaborate in a way that’s flexible, efficient and transparent. You workers can engage from their favourite device in a way that makes sense to them. They can do so at their convenience, which improves productivity and engagement.

Furthermore, all collaboration activities and associated data are easily accessible to both every worker and manager in one centralised repository. Because everything is right there in one place, it prevents miscommunication. There is also a much lower chance of missing out on important communication or creating information silos.

3) Make notes on the go with OneNote

If you’re like most people, you probably get your best business ideas when you least expect it. The same is probably true for the people on your staff. 

Fortunately, Microsoft has included the perfect tool to help us gather and organise our business notes in the most convenient way.

Microsoft OneNote offers seamlessly-syncing mobile apps for every platform and syncs with the rest of the Microsoft 365 suite. 

If your business organises things by project or department, it’s a good idea to create a notebook for each. Then anytime inspiration strikes, you can just pull out your phone and type in the idea.

If you’re on the computer, all you have to do is bring up the note-taker. On computers running Windows, the note-taking app integrates with the system flawlessly.

4) Make it a habit to store everything in OneDrive

If you have the benefit a top-notch IT support provider (like Inspired Techs), you never have to worry about losing documents. Even if the worst were to happen, a quality provider will have done a lot of preventative work. They would have configured several backup procedures to make sure you never lose a single document. That is, even if you insist on storing them on your local hard-drives instead of the cloud.

With that said, we still encourage customers to move more of their business to the cloud for several reasons. It’s easier and more convenient for you. And as Microsoft 365 user that means storing your documents in OneDrive. The only “upfront cost” is that you have to encourage employees to develop a habit of saving their document to OneDrive instead of local drives.

However, consider that Microsoft has gone out of their way to make this as easy and straightforward as possible. They have worked hard on creating perfect integration between OneDrive, the Windows file-system and your favourite apps such as Word and Excel.

5) Utilise Templates to help with things like budgeting, invoicing and more

Templates are one of the things that we find goes most underutilised by businesses who implement a Microsoft 365 solution. If there is a problem to solve in your business, there is most likely a premium template to solve it. And it comes included with your Microsoft 365 subscription. 

All you have to do is take a look at some the different premium budgeting, invoicing, payroll and sales quote templates. If you like one, you just choose it and modify it to suit your needs. Furthermore, even if there isn’t an official template for something, there are other options. You can usually find easy-to-follow official tutorials or 3rd party template websites.

6) Start learning about Microsoft Access

Word and Excel are a fine start and allow you to do just about anything that is a part of running a business. If you need it, they offer a template to make it happen.

However, once your business grows past a certain level of complexity, you will generally want to start tracking different business processes and assets in the forms of databases. 

Microsoft Access has been the simplest way for SMBs to start transforming their business assets into databases for decades now. And the good news is that it comes included with your Microsoft 365 subscription. 

Furthermore, it integrates perfectly with the rest of the Microsoft tools that you already have and use. This means that it is very easy to start off doing things in Word and Excel as you are new to things, but gradually shift more of your business processes and data towards Microsoft Access.

7) Get help from proven Microsoft 365 experts. No need to go at it alone

We have helped hundreds of businesses to implement Microsoft 365 in their environments. In fact, we’ve worked with every type of business in any industry that you can imagine. If you run into a problem, chances are we have helped many businesses just like yours to solve it, at least a dozen times. 

Whether you’re thinking about implementing Microsoft (Office) 365 or already have a licence, feel free to contact us here at Inspired Techs. We’d love to see how we can help you implement it in the best way possible.